Category Archives: California

[LA Life] A Lunchtime Romp Along the LA River

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Los Angeles is a stunning landscape where you can cruise from coast to snow capped mountain and back to the desert in less than a day – if you really wanted to.  But did you know you don’t have to leave the city of Los Angeles to get a hearty dose of nature into your system?  Between Exposition Park, the Getty Getty VillaHuntington, Arlington and Descanso Gardens there are rolling acres of unique plants, flowers and trees in echo of habitats around the globe, and the multitudes of parks spread around the city like wildflowers preserve the natural landscape of Los Angeles.  Griffith Park is the second largest urban green space in California and the eleventh largest in the United States. And then there’s the LA River.

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Back in the day, long before I moved to Southern California – my parents told me an old adage about Los Angeles: LA, it’s where the rivers are paved and the streets aren’t.  Now, as a kid this statement made me laugh but for different reasons than it does now, because until I heard that ludicrous statement, it never once occurred to me that Los Angeles had a river that ran through it all.  Now, after almost a decade of living here, I can fully attest to the veracity of both sides of this absurd but accurate statement.

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Sprawling over 50 miles through the heart of Los Angeles, the LA River begins up in the Santa Susana Mountain Range, which stretches between the San Fernando and Simi Valleys. and flows into Long Beach. Over the last two decades, and in conjunction with the Friends of the LA River,  the city has decided to revitalize about 30 miles of the river and both bring back the ecology of the area and promote its biodiversity.  With multiple stops for river trail access, local recreation areas and riverfront parks, delicious restaurants as well as nearby metro stations – you could easily make a whole day out of gallivanting down the banks of the river while exploring true hidden gems of the city.

So far, I’ve only gallivanted along the paths in North East LA, but so far – so beautiful. There are several different bike paths that take you along the river in Frogtown, and if you bring good enough shoes you can even make it down to the banks and enjoy a little picnic in the middle of the city, relaxing as the river ripples along – bubbling up to say a little hello; just do yourself a favor and pack some sunscreen because bugs. There were several lush parks to take a pack lunch to, and with amazing sandwich shops like Wax Paper along the route how could you not? I highly recommend the Steve Julian. Now, I personally don’t know how to ride a bike – but the bike path by the LA River makes me damn well wish I did – plus, now that I know the Spoke Bike Cafe is just a hop, skip and a jump down the trail, I just might finally learn…one day ;).

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For more about the LA River Trail and all the amenities on the way, head to their website or social media pages:

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[LA Life] Frolic Among the Flowers at the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve

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Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

Over the last year, my life has uncovered a bevvy of nuanced ways that it has to re-prioritize what’s important. Call it a quarter life crisis, or simply just growing up – but the things that used to sit on top of my pyramid of needs have reorganized themselves into a quieter, calmer lifestyle.  An avid audiophile through and through, when I pulled away from going to music festivals and concerts it was like I spearheaded an investigation into who I was at my core.  A daughter, a dreamer, a lover, a cat lady, a nature nymph, a very silly girl who cares very deeply about the world she cultivates around her. Two years ago, four years ago, ten years ago – I couldn’t escape the monotony of my home life enough:  living in Los Angeles, there is literally something to do at every second of every day, and I dove in head first, exploring new eats in new cities and musing around music festivals like it was my job, which eventually – it was.  At 23, it was the perfect lifestyle – at 28, still amazing; but as I cruise into the meat of my thirties, that’s just not what I want out of life at this current moment.

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What do I want? I want to be nurtured by nature, I want to analyze my psyche through the scope of the arts and I want to take things just a little more slowly, a little more sweetly.  Over the almost nine years that I’ve lived in Los Angeles, I’ve watched as this self professed ‘City Kitty’ has evolved into more of a ‘Country Cat’.  I’ve fallen head over heels in love with Big Sur and Sequoia, breathing in the the crisp, clean air while I revel in the romanticism of the great outdoors. Though we’ve been in a major drought these last few years, major rains during this past Winter have done their part to change the lay of the land and bring some much needed water to the area – and the Springtime Southern California desert has responded in kind with the Super Bloom.

Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

Just a hop, skip and a jump up the 14 Freeway from Los Angeles lies the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve.  Sitting right on the outskirts of Lancaster, and potentially one of the only valid reasons to go to Lancaster at all, the AV Poppy Reserve is surrounded by rolling hills and a sweeping skyline.  Part of the California National Park system, the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve spans 1,781 acres acres and boasts a wide variety of trails to take you from corner to corner of the park. The state natural reserve is located on the states best natural poppy bearing land. But, beyond the orange beauty of the California state flower, the Poppy Reserve and outlying areas are covered with luscious blue lupines, and yellow goldfields and cream cups.

Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

Though the Poppy Reserve is stunning, and boasts plenty of walkable trails – I found that the best Poppies were right on the side of the road.  With ample turnouts available from Castaic Lake all the way up to the Reserve, you could literally spend the entire afternoon staring into the soul of flowers.  And boy, do those flowers sing back.If you couldn’t get enough of the sprawling desert landscapes of Lancaster, the Arthur B Ripley Desert State Park is only about 8 miles West of the Poppy Reserve, and has plenty of wildflowers and juniper woodland, in addition to the area’s native Joshua trees.

For more of my photos from the Poppy Fields, check out my album here 🙂

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Southern California and plan your trip to the Poppy Reserve now! For more on the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, head to their website and social media channels –

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Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

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Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

[LA Life] Lunchtime Libations at the LACMA

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Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

Moving to a new city after college is equal parts exhilarating and exhausting, it’s a fresh start for a mature mind and a time and place when one truly comes into their own.  The sights, sounds, and even smells surrounding you become synonymous with your new life as you breathe in the sunshine and the nightlife day after day.  From live concerts, music festivals, and food trucks to the museums, art galleries and art walks, Los Angeles offers a little bit of everything for the creative spirit. Here we have me, eight years in and a bit stagnant, for lack of a better word.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy what the city has to offer, but live here – or really anywhere – for long enough and you’ll  begin to take the things that initially made your city so grand for granted.  Unique locations like Hollywood and Highland, Venice, and Santa Monica lose their glittering grandeur and you’ll begin to curse the overcrowded freeway system instead of being enthralled by the distance from the snow to the sand, or the multitudes of live music venues and museums scattered around each and every nook of town. The arts offer us emotional relief and right now with everything going on politically it’s more important than ever that we all support our local galleries and museums.

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

Art and I have slowly but surely been coming to terms with each other. A self professed audiophile and lover of the arts, some specific fine arts like painting, portraiture, sculpting and drawing have been slow but sure to tickle my fancy in recent years.  The more I see that the art world isn’t just full of lackluster landscapes and stuffy old people in silly clothing, but enamored scenes, surreal sculptures and peculiar pieces – the more I’ve come around.  It’s taken a while to figure out which museums I should visit and which I might want to avoid, but the LACMA has a bit of everything for all, and amazing architecture to boot.

Initially part of the menagerie of museums at Exposition Park that were established in 1910, the LACMA broke off from the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art in 1961 to give proper focus to the fine arts at a separate location and they opened their doors to the public back in 1965.  Now celebrating over fifty years of the arts, the LACMA currently sits on twenty sprawling acres of land in the Miracle Mile area and has been a staple of artistic culture in Los Angeles ever since. Boasting a collection of over 130,000 works ranging from ancient art and antiquity to the contemporary art of now, the LACMA stands proudly as the West Coast’s largest art museum.

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

Located on a conjoined lot with the Page Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits, the LACMA complex consists of eight separate buildings and a sprawling green lawn, perfect for picnics.  The Ahmanson Building houses the Art of the Pacific, the Rifkind Gallery for German Expressionists,  Islamic, Asian and European Art, and Art of the Ancient World which is also hosted in the Hammer Building along with Korean and Chinese Art.  The Pavilion for Japanese Art and Art of the Americas buildings need no further introduction while the Broad Contemporary Art Museum boasts paid exhibits, such as the Piacsso and Rivera Exhibition ‘Conversations Through Time’, an oddly immersive exhibit on the first floor and several areas devoted to contemporary collections.

 

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

For the multitudes of art that I find myself enamored by inside the LACMA, there are an equal number of awe inspiring architectural marvels and sculptures scattered around the grounds.  One of the most popular is the ‘Levitated Mass’on the Fairfax side of the park, and the La Brea Tar Pits make for a fun history lesson, irregardless of your age.  Not to mention, the Pavilion for Japanese Art oozes with incredible design that winds and weaves up and into the sky.

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

 

Open during the week from 11 to 5pm and weekends from 10 to 7, the LACMA has some fantastic food options. For lunch, there are always a bevvy of food trucks right across the way from the LACMA as well as some wonderful options within walking distance, including The Grove, and the Beverly + Fairfax Area.  For a grab-and-go lunch on site, head to the LACMA Cafe,  But if you’re down to lounge lavishly on the patio and people watch in comfort, then head on down to Roy’s and the Stark Bar. Yes, it’s a bit on the pricy side – but why not just pop in for a tasty beverage and a few sharable plates?  My recommendation is an Urban Light drink with their Yellowtail Crudo, and then thank me later.

For more on the LACMA, head to their socials – or take a leisurely stroll into Los Angeles’ magical Miracle Mile area and see the museum for yourself.

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Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

[LA Life] Getting Artsy at ARTIC

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“Time goes faster the more hollow it is.
Lives with no meaning go straight past you,
like trains that don’t stop at your station.”
Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind

One of my favorite things about photography is the belief that each and every one of us views the world through their own technicolor lens. We all see different shades of beauty in the world, and photography gives a keen insight into the way that each person’s visual interpretations can differ.

To say that I have an obsession with beautifully unique architecture and lavish locations is a bit of an understatement.  My wanderlust propels me to constantly explore, adventure and discover each and every corner of the world, but mostly – my own backyard of Southern California. Boasting a beautiful menagerie of natural settings, from the diamond blue oceans of the Pacific to the snow-capped mountains, fields of flowers and the deserts between, California’s got a little bit of everything for every type of nature lover. So, when I tell you that for the past year I’ve been itching to go take pictures of a Transit station, you might not get it – until you see for yourself. Ever since Instagram introduced their geotagging feature a few years ago, I’ve been building, developing and adding to an epically long list of places I want to frolick around like a little fairy, or at the very least photographically capture them to my heart’s desire. And one of the very first places on that list was ARTIC, otherwise known as the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center.

Located part way between Angel’s Stadium and the Honda Center, ARTIC was unveiled to the public in December of 2014. Depending on who you ask it’s, the venue itself is either $188 Million Dollar drain, or a photographer’s wet dream with great lighting, lots of color, loads of reflections and a whole lot of symmetry. Since I don’t live in Anaheim, I’ll go with the later – but after visiting, I definitely understand the former as well.

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Even though I’d permanent markered ARTIC into a list of epic, must-shoot places, it was purely a beautiful coincidence that I happened across it.  Just the other weekend, I was down in Anaheim with Danny to handle some family business.  We were getting a bit famished and my craving for happy hour oysters had set our hungry kitty sights on Oyster Bar SKC.  As we pulled into our parking spot, the technicolor haze of lights inside ARTIC danced across the sky and I felt like a little kid that just got to the amusement park.  Words spilled out of my mouth as I bubbled over with excitement as we walked between the Palm Trees, underneath ARTIC’s rainbow ceiling, and into a technicolor daydream.

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Come for the pictures, stay for the oysters. Currently, there are plans to build a Pinkberry on the first floor of ARTIC – but until then, the one tried and true food favorite is the Oyster Bar SKC which boasts $1 oysters during happy hour, half-off appetizers and beer as well as some of the most delicious drinks I’ve had in recent months.If you’re a fan of the venue but don’t live nearby, you’re in luck because Oyster Bar SKC is opening a second location down in sunny San Diego, with a third in the works just around the corner from Los Angeles in Pasadena. Though there aren’t very many reasons to visit ARTIC, there are definitely a few – catch a baseball game at Angels’ Stadium or catch a concert at the Honda Center, Chapman University and Disneyland are also just a little jaunt away.

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For more on ARTIC, head to their socials, browse through my favorite photos – or just jump on the local transit lie and take a little trip – I promise you, it’s so worth it.

ARTIC on Instagram

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First and Last Photos by Daniel Leist Photography

[LA Life] Say Yay to Snow Days!

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Halfway between a creature of habit and victim of circumstance are a multitude of reasons that I’ve barely ever visited the snow.  Growing up as a swimmer in the Bay Area, I loved the sun and water more ways than I could count; while on family vacations we constantly favored beautiful beaches with their sandy waves over the glistening snow-capped mountains.  I barely ever made it to the snow as a child and can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen it in person.  Not to mention, I can be quoted as saying “I’m a Image may contain: tree, snow and outdoor‘Hawaii’ kind of girl” more times than I can count, because bless my parents – they still like to remind me of all those years before I turned into such a nature nymph. To them, it’s any wonder that I’ve turned from a self-professed city kitty into a rough(er) and tumble(r) snow bunny, but here I am – ready for business, and by business I mean nature-inspired personal pleasure.

One of the many, many fantastic things about living in Los Angeles (Southern California…and just California in general),  is that on any given day you can make a trip to the sand or a trip to the snow; if you’re feeling frisky, you can even get a delightful dose of both! Beach days, though beautiful, are proverbially a dime a dozen in the land of palm trees, blue skies and power lines and let’s get real – everyone flocks to the sandy shores: your housemates, your neighbor, your landlord, celebrities and vacationers all come for the beach – which makes hitting those pearly slopes significantly sweeter.  There are near trips and far trips, day trips and trips you should probably make a whole weekend out of. Don’t quote me on exact travel times because, HELLO Los Angeles traffic, but if you’re in the mood for a fantastic day trip – Mt Baldy and the defunct Mt Waterman Ski Lifts make for excellent treks and are just an hour outside of LA proper in the San Gabriel Mountains, while Big Bear in the San Bernadino National Forest is a little over two hours away.  If you’re feeling like an adventure is in the works, Sequoia National Forest is a few hours away and makes for an epic Winter weekend journey.

Pack + Play

For as fun as a snow day is, being fully prepared for your snow day will make things go a hell of a lot smoother (and, warmer!). First things first, make sure you have enough hydration and nutrition to last the day – and then some.  Make some sandwiches, grab some snacks get a good combination of both salty and sugary foods; in case anyone’s body starts going into a bit of shock – it’ll bring them right back! When it comes to water, even though the weather might be a big frightful and frigid, it doesn’t mean your body isn’t working overtime – especially if you head out on a hike.  Make sure you have twice as much as you think you need, and enough for any pups (or, brave cats!) that are along for the ride. Just like in the movie Shrek, when it comes to clothes in the cold – it’s all about layers, so snag a scarf, get a beanie, and a hoodie – or two; if you’ve got fur, this is the perfect time to rock it.  Because of the nature of snow, if you’ve got waterproof pants, socks and or shoes, bring ’em out. Basically, waterproof everything is a plus – GoPro, iPhone 7, you name it – it’s perfect for the snow.  Also, booze…responsible boozing also makes the snow a whole lot more fun.


[LA Life] Get Lit at the Descanso Gardens This Holiday Season

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I’ve been known to gush about the plethora of wonderful parks, gardens and green areas in Los Angeles – so when I found out that the Descanso Gardens was hosting an illuminated evening befit with lights from every direction – I was all ears and eyes.  In tandem with the LA Zoo Lights event, the fabled Descanso Gardens in Altadena is joining in the fun – creating their own Enchanted Forest for the holiday season.  During the day, the sprawling landscape of Descanso consists of a Lilac Garden, a Japanese Garden, California Natives and a sprawling 5 acre rose garden – and at night  for the next four weeks, it’s transformed into a whimsical wonderland with expertly curated and interactive exhibits.

 

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Daytime at Descanso

Technically, hypothetically – it’s helpful if you and your crew acquire your tickets ahead of time but I’ve discovered that anything is possible the day of, especially if you put your mind to it.  If you’re into planning, tickets for the Enchante Forest can be purchased either online or in person at the Descanso Gardens during normal operating hours. Tickets for the Enchanted Forest event run about$30 for weekends through their official website, but I found a discount link through a company called Goldstar for only $21 for as long as tickets last.  Each ticket is timed to a specific entry time, and you’re allowed to enter at any point after and stay until close at 10pm.

Purchase Tickets to Enchanted Forest

As a warning, it gets packed – not to the brim, but you should know that to get in, there’s only one line; it moves fast, but it gets pretty lengthy by the end of the night. There are several bars inside that give generous pours, and some snacks and winteresque drinks like apple cider and hot chocolate.  Perfect for a date night, family night or just a night out on the town with friends getting a dose of something a little different in their lives.

For more on the Enchanted Forest + Descanso Gardens, head to their social media channels:

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1418 Descanso Dr

 La Canada Flintridge, CA

 

 

 

[LA Life] Gallivant Through The Gardens of the Getty Villa

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Getty Villa

The weekends are made for reveling and laxing; for shedding that thick skin you buiilt up throughout the week and letting your soul shine through in diamond delight for 48 hours. For those of us out on the North East side of Los Angeles, it’s also that one time a week that we’ll leave our pocket of the city and venture to Hollywood, Downtown, Long Beach, Malibu – little slices of our near and distant bubbles of life that feel like another planet entirely.

Getty Villa

Built as an homage to the Herculaneum’s Villa of the Papyri, the gallery was curated back in 1954 and opened to the public in the 70’s. Back a several years ago, I took my first trip out west to the stunning Greek Inspired Getty Villa and marinated in the Greco Egyptian and Greco Roman artifacts and treasures.  This time felt different. As we entered, we lingered in the gardens, lapping up the luxurious landscapping and gorgeous greenery each corner of the Villa had to offer.

Getty Villa

The Getty Villa is open from 10am to 5pm, Monday through Wednesday and parking is $15 before 3pm and $10 after. Good news is that tickets to get in are $Free.99, you’ll just need to reserve your spot online to get in; you can plan ahead, or just get tickets the day of.  The food options, which admittedly aren’t why you come to a museum, are nominal but delicious – and the wine and beer selection makes for excellent Sunday Funday material.

For more on the Getty Villa, visit their socials – or just plan a visit!

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